Russian schools abandon Windows?

March 05, 2007, Mon 11:33 AM  Security  Business  

Schools in the Perm region will soon quit buying software from commercial companies, said the regions Education Minister Nikolay Karpushin. The announcement was made in line with the report on ensuring license purity in the regions schools.

According to Nikolay Karpushin schools would start using freely distributed software like the Linux OS, Russky office and Open office desktop apps, Ekho Moskvi reports. Buying business and commercial programmes from producers is quite expensive, the Minister said.

Andrei Garkanov, Aflex Software Marketing Director thinks there are cheap, localized Russian Linux distributives in this country, ASPLinux 11.2 for example. It has a user-friendly graphic interface, any documents might be created in it without installing special programmes, one can use the internet, listen to music and even learn the basics of Linux programming. It has a safe working environment because operational systems with plain code have a low virus probability, said Mr. Garkanov. State educational facilities have a 50% discount on ASPLinux distributives.

However, not everybody shares Mr. Karpushins view. Oleg Zaplatinsky, teacher of computer science in a Moscow school thinks it is not so easy to switch over to Linux, because teachers do not know it, they cant install it. Due to low wages at school there are no specialists there. An average teacher in Russia gets 1015 thousand rubles a month ($400-$600) giving 4-5 classes 5 days a week. The wages are even lower in the province.

Since Windows Vista saw light recently the schools would have to start using Linux for financial reasons, thinks Mr. Zaplatinsky. The teacher couldnt say if it is good or bad that pupils use only Windows because this depends on their future activity.

Nikolay Karpushins statement on the software license control in the regions schools coincided with a scandalous court case against a Sepich school principal. The Prosecutors Office of the Vereshagino district has initiated a criminal case of copyright infringement against a school principal, Alexander Ponosov. The man is accused of illegal use of Microsoft products which resulted in a 260 thousand rubles ($9,8 thousand) damage for the company. The article 146 of the Russian Criminal Code provides five years' imprisonment for piracy.

Mr. Ponosov denies accusations, saying that the computer equipment was delivered on demand of the Perm regions Capital Construction Administration. The Federal Agency for Print and Mass-Media announced it would compensate the damage from extra-budgetary funds, if Microsoft had any material claims to Mr. Ponosov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stood up for principal accused of piracy, saying that to judge someone for buying computers is complete nonsense. He also said that not the consumers should be accused of using illegal software but the distributors.

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